28. Poetic Forms Part 3: Fun with Forms

Author: Nola Published: over 2 years ago.
Tags: humour, daisy-chains, abecedarians, acrostics, alliteration, poetry Category: Writing tips

Hmm … does that title remind anyone else of Dr Sheldon Cooper’s Fun With Flags? Just as Sheldon and Amy had a hoot with their flags, you can have fun with poetic forms and techniques. Here are a few types to get you going.

Daisy Chains

In a daisy-chain poem, each word starts with the last letter of the previous word (e.g. ‘baby yaks sing gothic carols’). The last word in the poem should end with the first letter of the first verse, so that it links back like a chain. Daisy chains don’t have to rhyme, but rhyming adds an extra challenge. This is a great way to build your vocabulary and take your thoughts in different directions. If you want to know what happened to those baby yaks and their friends, you can see the whole poem here.

Abecedarians

In these poems, each line or section starts with a different letter of the alphabet in order. For example:

A maze-filled nest
Built by some ants,
Cavoodle sniffs
Does sneezy dance.

And so on until you reach Z. Did you know that Psalm 119 is an abecedarian? The effect is lost when translated into English. However in the original Hebrew, the poem consists of 22 stanzas each starting with a subsequent consonant of the Hebrew alphabet. Click here for more Biblical examples of abecedarians and acrostics.

Acrostics

The word acrostic is sometimes used for alphabetised examples like the ones described above. However, it's a broader term for poems in which a word is spelled out by the first letters of each line. Lewis Carroll’s poem A Boat, Beneath a Sunny Sky is a great example. If you look at the first letter of each line, they spell Alice Pleasance Liddell, the name of the child who inspired his classic work Alice in Wonderland.

If you click here, you can see a variation of an acrostic I've written in which the first word of each line spells out a quote.

Alliterated Poems

Alliteration involves using a series of words that start with the same consonant or the same sound group (e.g. cat, cup, cobble or flinch, flat, flung). While this technique is often used in poetry, an alliterated poem goes full throttle in using as many similar consonant sounds as possible. Cameron Semmens has some brilliant examples in his book Love is the New Black. The following lines are from an alliterated version of the Good Samaritan entitled The Tale of the Tender Toughie.

The toughie took his time to tenderly treat
the traveller’s trampled toes,
his torn tendons and his tarnished teeth.
Yet tied to his travelling timetable
the toughie had to toddle off, to travel on.
So he told the tavern trader
“Take this tip of 2,220 and tend to this
terrorised traveller ’til he’s totally tip top!”

Have I convinced you that poetry can be fun? I’d be interested in seeing your creative masterpieces.

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